REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS (RFA)

BUSINESS SURVEY IN SERBIA

Issuance Date: MAY 16, 2014
Deadline for Receipt of Questions: JUNE 01, 2014 by 1 p.m. CET
Closing Date/Time for Submission of Applications: JUNE 16, 2014 by 1 p.m. CET

SUBJECT:    Request for Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-2014-02

The USAID Business Enabling Program in Serbia (USAID BEP), a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded contract implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd., is seeking applications from qualified, legally registered US, Serbian, non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for a grant to implement a business survey in Serbia.

The Successful Applicant will be responsible for ensuring achievement of specified grant objectives.

This RFA consists of the following sections:

  1. Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description
  2. Section 2 – Award Information
  3. Section 3 – Eligibility Information
  4. Section 4 – Application and Submission Information
  5. Section 5 – Application Review Information
  6. Section 6 – Award and Administration Information
  7. Section 7 – Annexes

Pursuant to 22 CFR 226.81, it is USAID policy not to award profit under assistance instruments. However, all reasonable, allocable and allowable expenses, both direct and indirect, which are related to the grant activity and are in accordance with applicable cost standards (22 CFR 226, OMB Circular A-122 for non-profit organizations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31 for for-profit organizations, and OMB Circular A-21 for educational institutions), may be paid under the Award.

Subject to the availability of funds USAID BEP intends to provide up to $20,000 in total funding to be allocated over a six month period. The survey to be conducted under this grant follows similar surveys conducted in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and it is envisaged that the survey will be repeated in the following years.

USAID BEP reserves the right to fund any or none of the applications submitted. Issuance of this RFA does not constitute an award commitment on the part of USAID BEP, nor does it commit USAID BEP to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application. Further, USAID BEP reserves the right to reject any or all applications received if such action is considered to be in the best interest of the US Government. Applications are submitted at the risk of the Applicant; should circumstances prevent making an award, all preparation and submission costs are at the Applicant’s expense.

Applicants should submit any questions concerning this RFA in writing, electronically, via email to grants@bep.rs and DMedic@bep.rs. The deadline for receipt of requests for clarifications/explanations is June 9, 2014, by is 1 p.m. CET. No questions will be accepted after this date.

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak Maljkovic, electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs The Closing Date for submission of applications is June 16, 2014, and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 1 p.m. CET. Late applications will not be considered.

Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description

Background

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a contract to Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (formerly Emerging Markets Group, Ltd.) for the USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia. The purpose of the Business Enabling Project is to help the Government of Serbia (GoS) improve the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private sector businesses. The overall objective is to assist GoS policy makers, business representatives, experts, and others to improve the business enabling environment and macroeconomic framework. The activity provides technical assistance and training to improve the business enabling environment, support macroeconomic stability, further develop financial markets, and improve and increase business and financial management capacities within government and business. The Business Enabling Project is made up of three components:

Component 1, Business Regulation and Economic Governance, streamlines laws, regulations, and institutions; improves regulators’ capacity to implement laws; and improves analysis and public-private dialogue.

Component 2, Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management, helps the Government implement new budget and fiscal responsibility laws, improve budgeting, increase public disclosure and transparency, strengthen public debt management, and improve economic analysis and forecasting.

Component 3, Financial Market Development, works on improving regulatory frameworks for non-bank institutions, develop capacity to strengthen and expand capital markets, and improve conditions for access to finance for small and medium enterprises.

Details on the Business Enabling Project can be found at www.bep.rs and www.policycafe.rs

The purpose of this RFA is to solicit applications to support USAID BEP in the achievement of its program objectives. To accomplish reforms in each of these areas USAID BEP helps the Government of Serbia work closely with the private sector and outside experts to make reforms that improve business competitiveness. Thus, USAID BEP needs to engage with the Serbian business community to understand their problems and identify priorities for reforms. To do this USAID BEP uses several tools, including surveys of businesses in Serbia. These surveys also help us understand whether the USAID BEP's activities are successful and whether different approaches are needed. They will also help the Government of Serbia identify priority reforms.

USAID BEP conducted annual surveys of Serbian businesses in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  The survey reports can be found at
http://www.policycafe.rs/documents/loop/Serbia%20Business%20Survey%20Report%202012.pdf
http://policycafe.rs/documents/business/survey/BEP%202011%20Survey%20Report.pdf and
http://bep.rs/documents/business-survey-2013/USAID%20BEP%20-%20%20Business%20Survey%202013%20-%20%20Complete%20Report.pdf

The survey was conducted on approximately 1,000 businesses each year.  The survey was carried out through face-to-face in-depth interviews with owners and managers of business entities throughout Serbia in three general sectors: production, trade, other services. 

The survey questionnaires are in an annex to the survey reports. Please note that the questionnaire for 2014 Survey is subject to possible revision, which will be discussed with the selected grantee at the negotiation phase.

Grant activity Description

The successful applicant will conduct an in-person survey of approximately 1,000 Serbian businesses via personal interviews in order to identify the problems, expectations for the future, and real priorities of the business sector and to capture and measure impacts of USAID BEP project related interventions.  The survey, which is done annually, provides credible insight on business environment and economic policy issues and provides reliable information and data about the business environment that is not otherwise readily available. The survey will need to be objective, precise, concise, logical, and replicable.

The survey sample and questionnaire will need to be designed to produce results that are comparable to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 surveys, enabling the grantee and USAID BEP to identify and analyze improvements and declines in business opinions and experiences from year to year. The annual surveys provide input to monitor progress that USAID BEP makes in each of its components and tasks. They also measure the progress in business environment and economic policy reforms.

The grantee will be responsible to obtain a sample of companies that is representative (by both number and structure) of businesses in Serbia and allows comparison with survey data from 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

The survey questions will be based on the questions from previous years, with improvements made in the questions where necessary.  Improvements must also enable valid comparison with previous years.  USAID BEP will work closely with the grantee on any improvements to survey questions and will approve the final questionnaire.

The grantee will recruit, train, and monitor a group of surveyors that are qualified and motivated to carry out a rigorous survey.  USAID BEP will assist the grantee in developing the written guidance for surveyors.

The grantee will conduct pilot interviews to test the survey and survey methodology.  The results of the pilot interviews will be discussed with USAID BEP, with means to improve the survey and methodology to obtain the desired accurate data.

The grantee will conduct face-to-face in-depth interviews with owners and managers of business entities and other field work, data processing and analysis, using appropriate software and other tools to assure accurate data collection, entry, and reporting.  The grantee will also provide appropriate controls on the field work and data management, including telephone and field controls and provide USAID BEP with a written report on the controls and results of the controls.

The grantee will provide USAID BEP with a report of the survey results, including appropriate graphics, segmented by region, business size, and gender.  The report will be completed in English and Serbian.  The grantee will provide further results and analysis at the request of USAID BEP, including correlations and segmented results. 

The proposal must encompass the following:

  1. Methodology / strategy to design and obtain appropriate sample of businesses, including size, representativeness, and characteristics;
  2. Concept for instructions to surveyors and surveyed businesses, as well as approach to training and oversight of surveyors;
  3. Methods for analysis of collected data;
  4. Means for validation of data;
  5. Follow-up analyses.

The following are the specific deliverables that the grantee will produce after award of the grant:

  1. Survey questionnaire;
  2. Instruction for surveyors;
  3. Presentation of the pilot findings;
  4. Full Survey findings in tabular and graphic presentation, historically compared  to 2011, 2012 and 2013 results;
  5. Power point presentation with applicable graphs, main findings, correlations and comparisons;
  6. Follow-up analyses per USAID BEP's requests;
  7. Database in SPSS and user friendly excel form.

All deliverables should be submitted in English and Serbian languages, while technical progress and final reporting is to be produced in English language.
The considerations listed above and explanations of how the deliverables will be prepared and presented should be elaborated in the Description of Grant Activities, Objectives and Methodology in the Grant Application Form (see Annex 2), along with a detailed budget for the activities (Annex 2A).

Section 2 – Award Information

Subject to the availability of funds, USAID BEP intends to provide up to $20,000 in total funding to be allocated over a six month period. The anticipated period of performance of the grant is expected to be July - December 2014. USAID BEP anticipates awarding one Fixed Obligation Grant under this RFA. Under a Fixed-Obligation Grant, all payments will be a fixed-sum payable upon completion of deliverables, which will be defined in detail during grant agreement negotiations.

Section 3 – Eligibility Information

Eligible organizations shall be able to comply with and achieve the proposed Program Description, Tasks, and Results and have a satisfactory performance record and record of integrity and business ethics.

Eligible organizations include legally registered US, Serbian, non-for-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Prior to the award of grant under this RFA, successful Applicants will be required to sign a Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing certifying that the Applicant’s organization does not provide and has never provided assistance to terrorists for terrorist activities. Successful Applicants may also be required to sign other Certifications as applicable to the award. The Certifications are attached as Annex 1 of this RFA.

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Public International Organizations;
  • Entities that have misused USAID funds in the past, organizations that advocate, promote or  espouse anti-democratic policies or illegal activities;
  • Political parties or institutions;
  • Organizations that intend to use the grant for religious objectives;
  • Organizations that are on the list of parties excluded from federal procurement and non-procurement programs or the United Nations Security Sanctions Committee.

Section 4 – Application and Submission Information

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak Maljkovic, electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs The Closing Date for submission of applications is June 16, 2014, and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 1 p.m. CET. Late applications will not be considered.

All applications in response to this RFA shall consist of a technical proposal and a budget proposal. The technical proposal must not be longer than 15 pages in length. Pages submitted in excess of 15 pages will not be reviewed. Supporting documents and CVs of the proposed key staff members, which the Applicants are required to submit (please see the Application Form), will not be counted toward the 15 pages limit. The technical proposal must be submitted in English, while the supporting documents can be provided in original language (Serbian) or English. The cost proposal shall be submitted as a separate file from the technical proposal. Applicants are advised to fill in the budget form as detailed as possible. Lump sums will not be accepted. Applicants are allowed to add new lines and modify the budget lines (not Budget Headings) according to the needs of the proposal’s activities. The required format for applications is included as Annex 2 - Full Application Form and Annex 2A – Budget Form.

Note: USAID BEP's grants Inbox has a 10MB limitation, thus be advise to send files exceeding this limit in several separate emails.

Section 5 – Application Review Information

Applications will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria set forth below. The criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this RFA. Applications should note that these criteria serve to: (a) identify the significant matters which Applicants should address in their applications; and (b) set the standard against which all applications will be evaluated.

To the extent necessary, USAID BEP may request clarification and supplemental materials from Applicants whose applications have a reasonable chance of being selected for Award. The entry into discussion is to be viewed as part of the evaluation process and shall not be deemed as indicative of a decision or commitment upon the part of USAID BEP to make an award to the Applicants with whom discussions are being held.

Applications will be evaluated by the Grants Selection Committee on the basis of 100 possible points. The weighting of various sections will be as follows

Category

Maximum Points (100 Total)

Methodology / Strategy 

10

Proposed Tasks and Activities

10

Staffing/Management Plan

20

Relevant Past Experience and Performance     

20

Cost Effectiveness

40

Total Possible Points

100

  1. Methodology / Strategy (10 points) Is the proposed strategy suitable for this kind of in person survey and likely to achieve the production of required deliverables?
  2. Proposed Tasks and Activities (10 points): Does the applicant propose specific activities that are logical, realistic, and relevant to the grant activity’s goal?
  3. Staffing/Management Plan (20 points): Does the proposed staffing/management plan reflect the personnel/management needs of the grant activity? Does the applicant propose personnel with experience and skills necessary to successfully implement the proposed activities?
  4. Past Experience (20 points): Does the organization have relevant past experience successfully implementing similar activities?
  5. Cost Effectiveness (40 points): What resources are provided for the proposed cost? Is the proposed budget realistic, well-though out, and in-line with the proposed activities? Are the proposed costs reasonable, allowable and allocable to the grant? Is the grantee contributing cost-share or providing in-kind support?

The selection of the Applicant for award will be made by the USAID BEP’s Grant Selection Committee. Prior to the award of any resultant grant agreement, the USAID BEP must obtain prior approval from USAID.

Section 6 – Award and Administration Information

Before the applications’ specified expiration date, successful applicant(s) will receive written notice from the Grants Manager informing the applicant(s) that the USAID BEP either intends to award a grant to the applicant without negotiation, or that the USAID BEP intends to engage the applicant(s) in further negotiations with respect to a potential grant award. Negotiations conducted after the receipt of an application do not constitute an obligation on the part of USAID BEP to award a grant. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing by the Grants Manager.

Any resultant award will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Prime Contract for the USAID Business Enabling Project (for US organizations: 22 CFR 226, OMB Circulars, and the Standard Provisions for U.S. Non-governmental Recipients; for non-US organizations: Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Non-governmental Recipients).

Section 7: Annexes
Annex 1: Certifications
Annex 2: Full Grant Application Form and Budget Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







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